All About Andy Croft
Andy Croft was born in 1956 in Cheshire. He went to Nottingham University and taught Literature and Creative Writing for Leeds University’s adult education department, in Middlesbrough from 1983-1996. Since then has made a living as a writer. He and Nikki have six children and one granddaughter.
He has worked in 400 schools all over the UK – primary, secondary and special needs. Residencies include the Great North Run, the Hartlepool Headland, Combe Down Stone Mines, the Southwell Poetry Festival, HMP Holme House, HMP Frankland and HMP Moorland.
His poetry has been broadcast on BBC 2’s The Politics Show, on Radio 3, Radio 4, Radio 5 Live and on the CBeebies show Poetry Pie. He has given many poetry readings, including in Potsdam, Sofia, Moscow, Kemerovo, Novosibirsk, the Royal Festival Hall and London’s Poetry International. He writes a regular poetry column for the Morning Star, curates the T-junction international poetry festival on Teesside and runs Smokestack Books. He lives in North Yorkshire.
Andy’s School Visits
Andy has worked in over 400 schools all over the UK, including reception, infant, junior, secondary, special schools, emotional and behavioural difficulty schools, pupil referral units and language units. He is happy to give brief whole-school presentations; these usually combine reading and whole-school improvisation. But in order to get children writing, Andy prefers to work with a group of about 30 in the classroom. Half an hour is probably the natural amount of time for working with reception children, one hour for infants, and half a day for KS2 groups. Because of timetabling issues in secondary schools it is very rare to be able to work with students for more than a single lesson, although he is happy to do this if the timetable permits it.
The only resource Andy needs is a white-board/flip-chart. Students will need pens/pencils and paper/whiteboards for writing.
Over the years Andy has worked on most kinds of writing in schools – poetry, stories, plays, songs, whole-class novels, newspaper-stories, non-fiction, radio-plays even musicals.
Whatever the age of the students, Andy always begins by playing a series of short, whole-class word games. These are designed to be enjoyable and funny, to remind everyone that you don’t have to be ‘good at English’ in order to enjoy the music of ordinary speech. Very often children who do not consider themselves to be ‘good at literacy’ are more able to listen to the common music of language. They use their ears, as writers and audiences have always done.
Andy’s approach to working in the classroom is based on the idea that you don’t have to be able to use the written word in order to be creative. Oral literacy depends on rhythm, rhyme, repetition, chorus, echo, alliteration and gesture. These are the common tools of a democratic oral literacy which we all share. The music of literature – specifically poetry – is much older than, for example, the rules of spelling and punctuation. Humans have been inventing, feeling, memorising and re-telling stories, songs and poems for thousands of years. But the highly-specialised techniques of reading and writing are very recent innovations. It doesn’t matter what kind of writing techniques we are going to explore, the self-conscious use of heightened, patterned language encourages a sense of the magic of words, a feeling for the unsuspected power and pleasure of using words with confidence and precision, an understanding of the importance of memory and anticipation and a sense of ownership over language.
The aims of the day are to encourage students to become writers and readers through the noisy exploration of language; and to help teachers deliver the ‘spoken language’, ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ elements of the National Curriculum.
Andy Croft has written and edited over 80 books, including poetry, biography, teenage non-fiction and children’s fiction. Among his books of poetry are Nowhere Special, Just as Blue, Great North, Comrade Laughter, Ghost Writer, Sticky, Three Men on the Metro (with W.N. Herbert and Paul Summers), A Modern Don Juan: Cantos for These Times by Divers Hands (with Nigel Thompson) and 1948 (with Martin Rowson). Edited anthologies include Red Sky at Night (with Adrian Mitchell), North by North East (with Cynthia Fuller), Not Just a Game (with Sue Dymoke), The Nightshift (with Michael Baron and Jenny Swann), Holme and Away, Speaking English: Poems for John Lucas and Everything Flows.
He has also written seven novels for children – Come on Danny, Dead Wood, Flash Flood, They Shall Not Pass, Death Match, Circus Max, The Dance of Death – and over forty non-fiction books (mostly about football) for teenagers. Other books include Red Letter Days, Out of the Old Earth, A Weapon in the Struggle, Selected Poems of Randall Swingler, Comrade Heart, After the Party, and a book for primary school teachers A Creative Approach to Teaching Rhythm and Rhyme.
A Creative Approach to Teaching Rhythm and Rhyme
Andy Croft strongly believes that you don’t have to be ‘good at English’ to be able to enjoy the music of ordinary speech. Using rhythm and rhyme is a democratic creative act that is equally hard and equally easy for everyone. It has special rules which won’t let you reach for the first word that comes into your head. Your words have to fit the pattern. You don’t have to write anything down, but you do have to become a writer. And once you have become a writer, you might become a reader…
Come On Danny
“Danny’s dad is in prison. His teachers are on his case. His friends are on his back. Can he find a way out?” Good quality fiction for the seriously struggling reader aged from 12-16.
1948 is a comic verse-novel, auaciously rewriting George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four in Pushkin sonnets. Set during the 1948 Olympics, it offers a radical alternative history of the Cold War, in which Britain has a Labour-Communist coalition government, the Royal Family has fled to Rhodesia and the US threatens to impose an economic blockade on Britain. Featuring cartoons drawn especially for the book, 1948 combines hard-boiled detective novels and Pushkin sonnetry, film-noir and Ealing comedy.
The Dance of Death
As the Black Death devastates England, wiping out whole villages, Adam and his older brother Will try to survive the new, terrifying world around them. They must face gangs of soldiers, religious mania, starvation and the ever-present threat of disease. Can they survive? A heart-pounding story of brotherhood, desperation and life in one of England’s darkest times.
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about Andy Croft, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information on Andy Croft is available on his website